Rabbits

Rabbits need as much space as possible so that they can carry out all their natural behaviours and live a long, healthy, happy life. At a minimum, a pair of rabbits need permanent access to 60 square feet (10ft x 6ft or 3m x 2m) of living space, so a traditional hutch alone is not suitable.

Outdoor Rabbits

For outdoor rabbits, we recommend a shed and run/aviary set up which should be predator-proof so that your buns can safely enjoy their outside space 24 hours a day. All wire mesh must be galvanised and at least 16 Gauge (16G) to be considered fox-proof. Runs/aviaries that the buns have permanent access to as part of their main set-up must either be on slabs or have wire mesh dug under the grass to prevent predators digging in or buns burrowing out! Runs must be at least 3ft in height to allow for binkying and periscoping.

A shed with adjoining aviary that the buns access 24/7 is a great choice (e.g. 6×4 shed with a 6×6 aviary attached, or bigger). Sheds can also be insulated to help your bunnies keep warm in winter, and cool in summer.

A hutch is only ever suitable if it is used as a shelter as part of a larger set-up, and is never closed. For example, a 6x2x2 hutch attached to an 8 foot long x 6 foot wide x 3 foot high run, or inside a 10×6 aviary. A huge advantage to us humans of walk-in height bunny accommodation (aviaries and sheds) is that it is so much easier to spend time bonding with your rabbits, and makes cleaning out time less back-breaking too!

For more outdoor rabbit set-up ideas, and predator-proofing tips, please visit the Rabbit Welfare Association’s housing pages: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-housing/outdoor-rabbit-housing

We do not adopt out rabbits to situations where they will be allowed to free-roam in the garden unsupervised. To be clear, the 60sq ft requirement is for a predator proof enclosure which the rabbits can access 24/7. The requirement cannot be met by allowing the rabbits free roam of the garden. Foxes and other predators can and will clear 6ft+ fencing/walls and this is not a risk we will place our rabbits under.


Outdoor housing checklist

  • 60 square feet total space minimum (on one level – additional platforms do not count towards this)
  • Galvanised 16G (or stronger) mesh with 25mm holes, or smaller if weasels/stoats are a concern
  • Run/aviary is situated on slabs/concrete or wire mesh buried under grass to prevent predators digging in/buns burrowing out
  • Run/aviary has either a mesh (16G minimum) or solid roof
  • Sheltered area is at least 6ft x 2ft x 2ft
  • Run height is at least 3ft
  • Rabbits have 24 hr access to the entire 60sq ft of space

Housing suppliers
Manor Pet Housing
Happy Habitats Pet Housing
4Wire
RunAbout Runs
Runaround


Indoor Rabbits

Rabbits can live happily indoors as long as you are able to provide a large (remember the 60sq ft rule!) bunny-proof living space. Many humans allow their bunnies to free-roam their house, however please be aware that this may not suit all rabbits – many will prefer their own space and if they have not lived indoors before, they may find sharing a living space with humans a little scary. Our preference is for indoor rabbits to have their own bunny-proof room or pen (either must be at least 60sq ft), filled with enrichment, hides, hay etc. They can then be allowed to explore the rest of your home outside of their bunny-base under your supervision, while still being able to retreat back into their own safe area.

Indoor rabbits may well chew wires, wallpaper, skirting boards, carpets, and other valuable human goods, so you’ll need to be prepared to bunny-proof their living space.

For more indoor rabbit set-up ideas, please check out the Rabbit Welfare Association’s housing pages: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-housing/indoor-rabbit-housing

Hay

85% of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay and/or grass. Eating hay/grass requires the rabbit to chew in a side-to-side motion, which wears down the ever-growing teeth, preventing dental issues. Pellets and veg do not require this side-to-side chewing motion, and also don’t include as much of the long-strand fibre which is also essential for gut health. Hay/grass must therefore be the main part of a rabbit’s diet!

If your rabbit doesn’t eat much hay, try different brands and types – meadow, timothy, orchard, oat, ings, dried grass – there are many options and usually one will tempt your bun. It can also help to mix in fresh or dried forage or your rabbit’s pellets, and provide multiple hay feeding stations in their enclosure so it is everywhere they turn!

We recommend buying hay by the bale or in bulk boxes – this will save you money and the hay will be better quality than the small plastic wrapped packs you find in pet shops. Try local farm shops and horse food stores.

Green plants, herbs & forage

After hay, rabbits should be provided with a variety of green plants and herbs. The best greens are those that a rabbit would find in the wild, and you can pick a lot of these yourself in your garden/parks/woodlands etc. Supermarket greens and herbs are acceptable, but we highly recommend feeding wild plants as often as possible, and also including safe tree branches, bark, and roots as would be eaten in the wild.

The following links provide lists of safe wild plants and recommended greens/veg/herbs:
Edible Plants for Rabbits – Frances Harcourt Brown
Recommended veg & herbs – Rabbit Welfare Association
What to Feed Your Rabbits – Wood Green

Wild plants can also be fed dried, which is useful during the autumn/winter months. There are many great online stores for purchasing dried forage (see list at bottom of page).

Pellets

Healthy adult rabbits who consume sufficient hay and are fed a variety of safe greens/forage will not require any pellets at all – our aim is always to wean rabbits off pellets when they come into our care and onto a majority hay based diet. If you do feed pellets, feed a very small amount, or use them as treats, in a puzzle game or scatter them around their enclosure and hide them in their hay to encourage foraging! Too many pellets can lead to obesity and serious dental issues as the rabbits fill up on these, neglecting the all-important hay. Pellets containing grains and cereals should be avoided – grass/hay based pellets with plenty of long-grain fibre are best. Below are some grass/hay based options.

Recommended Rabbit Food Sites

Healthy Herby (mention us when purchasing and we’ll receive free hay!) – Hay and forage
timothyhay.co.uk – Hay
The Hay Experts – Hay, forage & pellets
Just4Rabbits – Hay & forage
Hay-and-Straw.co.uk – Hay
Haybox – Hay, forage and pellets
Nature’s Grub – forage in bulk!
Cheshire Pet Supplies – Hay bales (useful if local to Manchester!)

As well as sufficient space (at least 60 sq ft), rabbits need enrichment in their enclosure – hideys, tunnels, platforms, digging trays, hays/grasses to graze on, things to chew, etc, to allow them to display natural behaviours.